Last year’s Kentucky Derby champion, two of the most dynamic sprinters in the country, and a multiple Grade 1 winner looking for redemption headline this week’s New York Racing Association’s Cross Country Pick 5.
This week’s Cross Country Pick 5 is an all-stakes sequence. The week’s races come from Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Delaware Park.
Two races, the first and the last in the sequence, feature head-to-head duels that likely offer the winner.
The first is the Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes from Belmont Park. This seven-furlong sprint gives you Grade 1 winners Life Is Good and Speaker’s Corner sucking all the air out of this field. Todd Pletcher’s Life Is Good comes in off a fourth in March’s Dubai World Cup. Bill Mott’s Speaker’s Corner arrives off a third in the Metropolitan Handicap.
The last race in the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence is the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. That too offers a first-among-equals battle between 2021 Kentucky Derby winner and 2/1 favorite Mandaloun, and 2022 unbeaten colt Olympiad. We last saw Mandaloun stagger home 18 ¾ lengths behind surprise winner Emblem Road in February’s Saudi Cup. Both of his Grade 1 victories came via disqualification: the Derby and the Haskell.
Olympiad showing recent gold-medal form
Olympiad rides in on a 4-for-4 winning streak. All four wins came with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, including his last-out 2 ½-length score in the Grade 2 Alysheba on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. But you may want to spread a little deeper here, especially being the last race. There’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile winner Americanrevolution and Grade 2 winner Last Samurai in the chorus.
The Cross Country Pick 5’s second leg is the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks from Delaware Park. This 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies offers up a deep, eight-filly field starting with Shotgun Hottie. The Gun Runner daughter rides in off a third in the Grade 3 Gazelle at Aqueduct. She does have a stakes victory, that coming at February’s Black-Type Ruthless at the Big A. That’s one of three stakes board hits for Shotgun Hottie this year.
Waiting for her are Republique and Midnight Stroll. Republique brings a perfect 2-for-2 record into her stakes debut, with both of those victories coming on the Gulfstream Park synthetic. Midnight Stroll enters off an awful ninth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. That snapped a two-race winning streak that included a Black-Type stakes score at Tampa Bay Downs.
Shedaresthedevil seeking revenge for La Troienne
The third race in the sequence goes back to Churchill Downs for the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis. Here’s where we see Shedaresthedevil and her 0-for-5 streak tangling with Pauline’s Pearl and Super Quick. Shedaresthedevil owns three Grade 1 victories, including the 2020 Kentucky Oaks. She rides in after failing to defend her Grade 1 La Troienne victory in May.
That came because of Pauline’s Pearl, who beat Shedaresthedevil by a half-length. The Steve Asmussen charge bounced from that Grade 1 win to finishing fourth out of five – as the 2/5 favorite — in the Listed Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs a month later. Super Quick wants to validate her 14 ¼-length romp in the Grade 3 Alliare DuPont Distaff at Pimlico.
The fourth leg returns to Belmont Park for the Grade 3 Dwyer. This one-turn mile brings you Charge It, who arrives two months after his 17th-place Kentucky Derby finish. Before that, the Pletcher trainee finished second to White Abarrio in the Florida Derby.
NYRA Cross Country Pick 5
|Leg A||John A. Nerud Stakes (G2)||Belmont Park||2:34 p.m.|
|Leg B||Delaware Oaks (G3)||Delaware Park||3 p.m.|
|Leg C||Fleur de Lis (G2)||Churchill Downs||4:35 p.m.|
|Leg D||Dwyer (G3)||Belmont Park||4:38 p.m.|
|Leg E||Stephen Foster (G2)||Churchill Downs||5:47 p.m.|
Should you not trust Charge It to find his form, there’s Chad Brown’s Nabokov making his stakes debut. He rides in off a 1 1/16-mile maiden-breaking score at Belmont Park in May. That victory came by 3 ¼-lengths.
The Cross Country Pick 5 comes with a 50-cent minimum and 15% takeout. Each week features a mandatory payout of the net pool. Free Equibase past performances are available here.